Slut-shaming, body shaming, age shaming, wardrobe malfunction shaming, what have you!
What are we on about? Why is the end game, ever so often, shaming? Why is it our default weapon of choice?
Here's the deal: There is no shame in wearing or not wearing something. There is no shame in looking, even. The shame - starting from the first ounce down to the last smidgen- belongs to the person or the group that thinks that the act or behaviour is something to be shameful about.
The shame belongs to the person who amplified a non-issue. The shame belongs to the one who shamed you.
If shaming for what we do or the choices we make is unacceptable, can we even begin to imagine what it must mean to be shamed for who we are? Where we have no choice in the matter.Our sexual orientations and gender predilections, for instance.
Shaming people for who they are on the basis of gender, race, religion, orientation - and what they cannot change - is dastardly and deplorable.
From my experience, I have known shame as an emotion that destroys self-worth with intensity and intricacy and unless you are ultra-careful, you start seeing yourself in ways that is consistent with the disapproval.
You find yourself exhausted and exasperated explaining a behaviour to yourself or to others. It is what makes you feel small, weak, inadequate and can drive you or the behaviour underground.
It puts people in an impossible state of feeling deficient and inability to either deal with or correct the thing in question. The only question in such cases is asking what is worse: the absurdity of it all or the futility therein.
Thing is, even the best of us, find it too difficult to understand and see shaming for what it is when it is taking place. It is dressed in work clothes for the most part and the omniscience contributes to its widespread acceptance. Ever so often, it's uttered as a casual remark or tossed as an aside or an afterthought.
What transpired in our childhood and adolescence is - if you have enough pluck and luck - understood sometimes as shaming when we become adults. When abuse is not understood as abuse, what are our odds of confronting and calling it.?
There is a ton of empirical evidence that correlates shaming with stress, paranoia and anxiety disorders. We have codified shame in human society. It is the ideal tool to enforce a code of conduct, as it were. Except, it's not.
Where this is inflicted by a primary caregiver or a parent, the memories are vivid and lasting and require healing of another magnitude. Being sensitive to another person's dignity is both central to the relationship and the other person's self-image.
Where this is not available, do not stop yourself from doing or not doing something because of shame. Please feel free to be utterly shameless. Become unshakeable.
Yogesh Parmar is a behavioural scientist and the founder of GameChangers.